Pruitt grilled on Capitol Hill while Cruz 'sideshow' held on lawn

By Ron Kotrba | April 27, 2018

The debate in Washington, D.C., over the Renewable Fuel Standard was in full force April 26 as U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was grilled at a House committee hearing on his generous issuance of RFS volume requirement waivers to profitable oil companies, while just outside on the Capitol lawn Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania, held a press conference with steel and refinery workers to discuss their plan to subvert the RFS by capping the price of RINs.

Congressman Dave Loebsack questioned Pruitt during an energy and commerce committee hearing about “hardship” waivers granted to a number of oil refiners, including large, profitable ones. Loebsack pressed Pruitt to be transparent, fully accountable and to release all of the information on how many waivers have been granted and to which refiners. Under current law, any gallons that are waived are required to be obligated to other parties, but due to the lack of transparency, Pruitt was unable to state on the record whether these gallons have been properly reassigned.

The House Biofuels Caucus, including Loebsack, sent a letter to Pruitt April 26 requesting EPA immediately cease all hardship waivers under the RFS until they are able to verify that the waivers will only be used for small refineries. The letter states biofuel demand was cut by 1.5 billion gallons as a result of these clandestine waivers.

“I am extremely disappointed that the EPA issued these waivers as well as the unacceptable lack of transparency and accountability in this process,” Loebsack said. “The granting of hardship waivers must cease until it has been verified that they are being used in a lawful manner.”

Click here for a video of Loebsack’s questioning of Pruitt.

On the Capitol lawn, Cruz stumped with refinery and steel workers from Monroe Energy, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and PBF Energy. “Right now in Washington there’s an argument, a battle raging,” Cruz said. “This all centers around what’s called a RIN. A RIN is a renewable identification number. It is a made-up license from the EPA, that when it was introduced, everyone was told these things would cost just 1 to 2 cents each. For the first couple of years that’s what happened. But then the RINs system broke, and RINs skyrocketed as high as a $1.40 each. What is the consequence of that? The consequence is that you’re seeing refineries driven into bankruptcy. … The solution is capping the regulatory cost on RINs, so that the men and women behind me can keep their jobs.”

Jessica Robinson, communications director for the National Biodiesel Board, said, “When you look at the facts, there’s no justification for Sen. Cruz and his sideshow. Every so-called solution he’s proposed has implicit negative consequences for biofuels and farmers. Abundant research demonstrates the RFS is working and RIN compliance places no net burden on refiners. That negates the entire premise of his claims. Even the EPA has affirmed this. We should be driving growth and innovation of clean, renewable fuels as Congress intended, not tolerating backdoor deals and false promises.”